ABOUT THE ACOS ALLIANCE
IMPROVING ACCESS TO
RESOURCES JOURNALISTS NEED
TO KEEP SAFE
Who are we?
The ACOS Alliance (A Culture Of Safety Alliance) is an unprecedented coalition of news organizations, freelance journalist associations and press freedom NGOs working together to champion safe and responsible journalistic practices for freelance and local journalists worldwide.
The Freelance Journalist Safety Principles are at the heart of this joint initiative. The Principles are a comprehensive set of practices aimed at embedding a culture of safety across newsrooms and journalists worldwide.
The Alliance works in conjunction with its sponsor, the Overseas Press Club Foundation.
How did we come about?
The brutal killings of freelance journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in the summer of 2014 shocked many newsrooms and set in motion a chain of events that culminated in the creation of ACOS.
In September 2014, a group of editors held private meetings in New York and Chicago to discuss how to respond to these murders and promote freelance journalists’ safety. During the following months, a volunteer committee made up of representatives of the Frontline Freelance Register, Reuters, The Associated Press, the Dart Center, GroundTruth Project and the Overseas Press Club drafted the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles, a document aimed at news organizations and freelancers alike that outlines a set of safety standards that freelancers and local journalists should be able to expect as a standard work environment.
The six organizations whose representatives drafted the principles became the document’s first signatories. Soon after, the ACOS Alliance was created based on the importance of widely implementing these principles. Several other organizations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, the Frontline Freelance Register, the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation, Reporters without Borders and the Rory Peck Trust were involved in the creation of the Alliance.
Board of Directors
The ACOS Alliance board of directors is comprised of representatives from news organizations, press freedom NGOs and the freelance community. They are actively involved in our initiatives and provide strategic guidance to the Alliance.
Maria Salazar-Ferro, Emergencies Director, Committee to Protect Journalists
Delphine Halgand, Reporters Without Borders Board Member
Jason Reich, Vice President of Corporate Security, The New York Times
Mike Christie, General Manager, Global Logistics & Security, Thomson Reuters
John Daniszewski, Vice President for Standards, Editor at Large, The Associated Press
Anna Therese Day, Freelance Journalist & Frontline Freelance Register Board Member
Mathias Dreissig, Editor, Deutsche Welle News
Brigitte Dusseau, Director, Agence France-Presse North America
Sally Fitton, High Risk Advisor, BBC
Diane Foley, Founder and President, James W. Foley Legacy Foundation
Sarah Giaziri, Director, Frontline Freelance Register
Bill Holstein, President, Overseas Press Club Foundation
Elisa Lees Muñoz, Executive Director, International Women's Media Foundation
Finbarr O'Reilly, Freelance Photographer and Writer
Clothilde Redfern, Director, Rory Peck Trust
David Rohde, Executive Editor for News, The New Yorker
Andréa Schmidt, Freelance Journalist and Independent Filmmaker
Art Sotloff, Founder, 2LIVES Steven Joel Sotloff Memorial Foundation
Daniella Zalcman, Freelance Photographer
THE ACOS ALLIANCE
THE ACOS ALLIANCE
THE HARD TRUTH
FREELANCING AS A PROFESSION
Within journalism, foreign desks and dedicated staff jobs are on the decline, making outlets’ use of freelancers more prolific than ever.
Freelancers cover nearly every issue, from local interest stories to hard news for regional and national newspapers, television, radio and online outlets.
Many freelancers, though, travel to some of the most dangerous areas of the world to give the public a view into what is happening there.
Every consumer of media benefits from the reporting that comes out of conflict zones and some of the most dangerous areas of the world – Syria, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, and many others in nearly every global region.
Without journalists and freelancers willing to commit to going to these dangerous areas, the rest of the world has no window into what happens there.
The work that they do, even at great personal peril, gives us all a better understanding of events in these regions and can inspire us to action.
Over the last two years, killings, imprisonments, and abductions of journalists have reached historic highs. These attacks represent a fundamental threat not only to individual news professionals, but to the practice of independent journalism itself.
Locally-based journalists face the largest threat and endure the vast majority of murders, imprisonments, and abductions.
Freelance journalists, who travel to these areas to report for any number of news organizations, also face untold amounts of danger in pursuit of their craft.
The ACOS Alliance calls on governments, combatants, and groups worldwide to respect the neutrality of journalists and immediately end the cycle of impunity surrounding attacks on journalists.
The ACOS Alliance has developed the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles – a comprehensive set of practices for newsrooms and journalists on dangerous assignments aimed at embedding this culture of safety with international news organizations and the freelancers who work with them.
Thus far, the Freelance Journalist Safety Principles have been endorsed by nearly 100 organizations, including major TV networks, wire services, global and national NGOs, and journalist representatives.
News organizations need to adopt, as a best practice, policies to support freelancers and allow them to access the tools they need to remain safe in the field. The Principles recognize that news organizations have a moral obligation to the journalists they work with.
The Principles recognize that both journalists and news organizations have a responsibility to discuss the circumstances of an assignment in depth and in advance. Far too often, topics like training, risk assessment, responsibility, and others are simply glossed over before an assignment starts. Ensuring that these topics are at the forefront of an assignment ensures both parties are fully informed and protected.
This is the first step in a long-term campaign to raise awareness and convince news organizations and journalists to endorse them and embed a culture of safety into their work.